The role of the Information Centre for health and social care in the NHS is set to be stepped up, NHS chief executive David Nicholson has revealed.

'We have not even begun to exploit the benefits of the Information Centre,' he told a conference. He said work was under way to ensure the centre's data was used more effectively.

Its services include developing group tariffs, clinical audits, the quality and outcomes framework, secondary user service and hospital episode statistics.

Last week, it launched a congenital heart disease website that gives parents access to survival data from all the UK's congenital heart disease centres.

Chief executive Professor Denise Lievesley told the Health Care Conferences event that she welcomed Mr Nicholson's comments: 'We exist to be relevant to the health and social service.

'We will work in unison with the Department of Health, as we do now, across the NHS in order to ensure our priorities are right and getting the balance between national and local needs. They will also work with us to understand what data we are collecting even more.'

The Information Centre is England's biggest independent source of health and social care information.

The centre works with more than 300 health and social care providers and produces more than 120 statistical publications each year on issues including primary care, health and lifestyles, screening, hospital care, population and geography, social care and workforce and pay statistics.